Posts Tagged Hello House East
In Japanese the word dozo (also written as どうぞ or douzo) roughly means “here you go”. It is used for giving something to someone, showing them to their seat, informing them to start eating or drinking, etc. In the Hello House common room there is a table (just off the right side of this picture) known as the dozo table. Unwanted items can be put on the dozo table and then they are free for any of the residents. You can tell when people have been cleaning their rooms or are preparing to move out by the amount of stuff on the dozo table.
So far in my few months in Hello House I have collected a nightstand, frisbee, futon mattress, clipboard, picture frame, juggling balls, Japanese phrase book and a computer monitor. I love the dozo table!
I still have the phrasebook to this day!
Other than the common living room area, there was one more hub of social activity at Hello House: The Stoop. The Stoop was the unofficial name of the front steps from the street to the main entrance of Hello House East.
Since smoking in a room with a tatami mat floor is very bad idea, the stoop was the de facto smoking area for Hello House. In addition to smokers, other people would hang out and chat, watching the residents come and go. I spent many nights hanging out with Lux on the front steps.
My favourite Stoop story involved a night where I was hanging out with Lux and likely a few other people. Hello House was down the street from a Hostess Bar that catered to middle aged business men. It could be argued that most Hostess Bars cater to middle aged business men, but this one definitely captured a 40-55 crowd with almost no exceptions. On one particular night, the hostesses were saying goodbye to a group of about 3 very drunk business men. The men were walking down the street towards Hello House, when one of them stopped to pee on the wall across the street.
Public urination is not entirely uncommon in Japan, especially among drunk businessmen (or English teachers). However, usually most people will take the time to go down an alley or somewhere away from people. Not this guy, he decided he was going to relieve himself directly across from a group of English teachers who were sitting outside. Lux decided that this was not appropriate behaviour and decided to loudly let the man know.
“HEY! That’s disgusting! I don’t come and piss in front of your house! Yeah you! I know you can understand me!!”
This didn’t slow the man down at all. If anything it gave him a little bit of a swagger when he shook out the last few drops and walked away.
Most of the time hanging out on the stoop didn’t involve entertaining public urination, but it was still a fun place to spend some time and chat with the other Hello House residents.
A note about the picture: I took this picture during a visit to Noborito in 2006, right before I left Japan. I am glad that I did, because not long after Hello House East and West were sold and flattened to make room for a new development. Goodbye Stoop! You are gone but not forgotten.
Hello House was the name of two dormitory style residences near Noborito station in Kawasaki, Japan. The two mostly identical buildings were named Hello House West and Hello House East. Most of the residents were non-Japanese English teachers. I lived in Hello House East for just over one year.
Each Hello House building had two dormitory wings and a common kitchen, shower room, and living room. The dormitory wings had two floors with toilet and laundry facilities on each floor. The rooms were 5 tatami mat size with an individual heating / air conditioning unit. All of the rooms came with a futon, under mattress and some sheets. Some of the rooms came with furniture from previous residents. I was lucky enough to have a desk in my room, but many rooms did not have any furniture. Costs for a typical room were 50,000 yen per month (approximately $500 CAD) plus electricity.
The rooms were pretty quiet, except for the few located directly above the living room. You needed to be a heavy sleeper with a quiet sex life in those rooms.
Outside the kitchen was a wall of shelving for food storage. Each room was assigned one area for food storage. Inside the fridge was the same. The kitchen itself was stocked with plates, glasses, pots, pans, and basically everything else you could need to cook. Since most of the residents were working different hours, there were never usually big traffic jams in the kitchen. As with any communal living environment, dirty dishes were a problem. Just because you were mature enough to move around the world and live in another country doesn’t mean that you were mature enough to wash the dishes you used. The most annoying problem with the system was that occasionally food would “go missing”, usually when someone was drunk or broke. Fortunately missing food wasn’t a regular occurrence.
The kitchen was next to the common living room which came with plenty of seating, a TV, and a bookshelf full of abandoned books from previous residents. All residents could borrow books from the bookshelf and leave unwanted books with the shelf. One of the most interesting features of the living room was the dozo table. Dozo is Japanese for “here you go”. The idea was that if there is anything you don’t want or need anymore, you can leave it on the dozo table and it is up for grabs for other residents. This was really helpful for stocking up your room, and great for reducing the amount of junk that you needed to pack when moving out.
The shower room had a big, deep Japanese style bath tub (which nobody used) and a number of private shower stalls. When I lived at Hello House the showers were coin operated and cost 100 yen for 10 minutes. There was a digital display that showed how much time you had left, so you had no excuse for running out of time with a head full of shampoo. With short hair, I was able to wash myself, my hair and shave in 10 minutes. It wasn’t a relaxing shower, but it sure was efficient. If you were lucky, the previous user would have left some time on the clock which would be added to your 10 minutes. Near the end of my stay in Hello House I was gifted with a 18 minute shower for 100 yen. After a year of speed showering I really didn’t know what to do with the extra time and ended up leaving most of it for the next person.
Hello House was a great place to live for someone new to Japan. Since almost everyone was non-Japanese you automatically had something in common with the other residents. If you ever needed advice on where to go shopping, cheap places to eat, where to go for dry cleaning, where to get haircuts, or anything else about daily life in Japan, there would be someone around with some good advice. Like all communal living environments there were always some annoying things, but overall it was a very good experience and I probably ended up enjoying my time in Japan more because I started out in Hello House.